WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Somali man was convicted on Friday in a U.S. court for serving as a ransom negotiator for Somali pirates and his role in the death of four Americans later killed by pirates, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Mohammad Saaili Shibin, 50, was brought to the United States in April to face federal charges over the pirating of an American yacht in February off the coast of Somalia and taking hostage two American couples aboard who were later killed.
Shibin was also accused of researching over the Internet who the hostages were to try to determine how much money to demand and the identity of their family members so he could contact them about a ransom.
The four slain Americans were Jean and Scott Adam of California and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from Seattle.
Additionally, he served as the ransom negotiator for pirates who seized the M/V Marida Marguerite, a German-owned vessel with a crew of 22 men, who were held hostage off the coast of Somalia for seven months, starting in May 2010.
According to the indictment, Shibin received $30,000 to $50,000 in U.S. cash as his share of the ransom payment.
"He was among an elite fraternity of pirate negotiators - the vital link to any successful pirate attack," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. "His skills were essential to obtain a ransom for those who attacked the vessel and the financiers who paid for the attack."
He was convicted on 15 counts including charges of piracy, hostage taking, kidnapping and conspiracy. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in a U.S. prison.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and James Vicini; Editing by Stacey Joyce)